SUMMER VACATION IN OMAN

Camels in the Fog

Spend summer vacations on the Arabian Peninsula and enjoy typical English weather! In Oman this is possible due to the monsoon rains that also hit the southern part of the country and turn the desert into a green jungle.

My Stages

SUMMER VACATION IN OMAN

Camels in the Fog

Spend summer vacations on the Arabian Peninsula and enjoy typical English weather! In Oman this is possible due to the monsoon rains that also hit the southern part of the country and turn the desert into a green jungle.

My Stages

Crossing The Desert During Summer

“A thousand kilometer road trip through the desert awaits us!” Abdullah packs the rest of his suitcases into the Ford Edge. I’m staying with his family in Oman and am experiencing summer here for the first time. In the capital Muscat it is currently over 40 degrees in the shade. To explain it more precisely: it is scorching hot in the truest sense of the word. And then there is the high humidity, because the city is located directly at the sea. Even at night it doesn’t really get cool. One is happy about 32 degrees Celsius!

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© Mirella Sidro

It is early in the morning. The direct journey will take about ten hours. Our destination: the city of Salalah, located on the Indian Ocean. It is Khareef and while it is too hot everywhere on the Arabian Peninsula, its inhabitants travel to the south of Oman.

Lush green in the Khareef

Khareef means “autumn” in Arabic and thus describes the season as we know it in Central Europe. Rainy and foggy. I can hardly imagine that such weather conditions can prevail here in Oman. Although I have seen photos and video, but to me they seem surreal.

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© Mirella Sidro

The drive continues on a straight highway across the desert. The closer we get to our destination, the more foreign license plates we see. They come from everywhere: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Dubai. Salalah and its surroundings have become the hotspot of Arabia in autumn. Then there is high season and the prices for the hotels and accommodations rise immensely. This natural spectacle lasts from mid-June to mid-September. After that, the south turns into a barren desert again. Meanwhile it is 45 degrees outside. A short stopover is out of the question. It is simply too hot. Also gas stations are rare. Sometimes there is an avenue of palm trees at the roadside. And that’s it. But the desert inspires. The way the wind blows, it also leaves shapes. The sun also reflects on the sand grains and makes the sand shimmer.

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© Mirella Sidro

We are approaching Government Dhofar in the southwest of the country. Salalah is the capital. “When we drive over this hill, you’ll be in a green paradise,” says Abdullah. He’s looking forward to the adventure as much as I am, even though he spends vacations here with his family almost every year. As soon as we arrive at the top of the hill, I look out over green nature with rain clouds hanging over it! It’s like a science fiction movie! Stunned and speechless I stare around me. Abdullah grins, “You wouldn’t have expected that now!” This lush green with the overcast sky … I could have been in Scotland! The temperature is also absolutely pleasant. It’s about 25 degrees outside.

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© Mirella Sidro

Residing in the Best Hotel of the Country

We reach our destination. Salalah was the capital of Oman until 1970. Before we check in at the Al Baleed Resort by Anantara, we stop at one of the many fruit stands. The area is famous for its bananas and coconuts. One stand after the other lines the roadside. The bananas are small, sweet and creamy. They taste like freshly prepared banana milk. I gobble down two pieces right away and rinse coconut milk afterwards. In the middle of the city directly on the sea is the hotel.

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© Mirella Sidro
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© Mirella Sidro

The five star resort is one of the best hotels in the country. I am allowed to stay in a pool villa with garden view. My own pool in the garden, which is closed off from the outside world. I would love to jump into the water, but Abdullah is already waiting for me.

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© Mirella Sidro

I was here three years ago. However, it was April and I visited the wild growing frankincense trees. The gold of South Arabia is considered the best in the world and the trees grow exclusively here in the whole country. And while we are there, we first go to the famous historical incense souk. It is mostly women who sell incense in different qualities, as well as bokhoor, a mixture of woods and oils that the farmers’ wives mix themselves.

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© Mirella Sidro

Abdullah buys a whole supply for the family, because incense and bokhoor are lit in the house every day. I love it when the mistress of the house comes into my room to fumigate! The scent is pleasant, calming and disinfecting. We also buy incense to chew and drink. It can serve as chewing gum. A bit of getting used to in the beginning, but after that you love it. It disinfects the oral cavity and makes the teeth nice and white. A pure natural product with great effect. Even the ancient Egyptians chewed diligently on incense pellets, which they refined with oils for fresh breath. I buy a few traditional clay incense burner in addition.

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© Mirella Sidro

Abdullah buys a whole supply for the family, because incense and bokhoor are lit in the house every day. I love it when the mistress of the house comes into my room to fumigate! The scent is pleasant, calming and disinfecting. We also buy incense to chew and drink. It can serve as chewing gum. A bit of getting used to in the beginning, but after that you love it. It disinfects the oral cavity and makes the teeth nice and white. A pure natural product with great effect. Even the ancient Egyptians chewed diligently on incense pellets, which they refined with oils for fresh breath. In addition, I buy a few traditional incense burners made of clay.

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© Mirella Sidro
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© Mirella Sidro

Before I go to bed, I actually go for a swim in my own pool. I don’t see any stars – it’s still cloudy. Abdullah reminds me to go to bed in time, because tomorrow we will drive a long distance to see the area in its full glory.

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© Mirella Sidro

The next morning we first head out for breakfast. The buffet is so large and rich that it feels like you have to walk for miles. There are even small pretzels – all homemade, of course. We have breakfast inside, because it might start raining soon. The infinity pool is simply beautiful, even in this weather, and seems to merge with the sea on the horizon. Around ten we leave. And it is raining cats and dogs. This is unusual even for me, since rain is so rare in Oman. And if it does rain, the Omanis are happy and go outside to let the precious drops of water roll off their heads. This was also the case with my Omani family. When it rained for the first time since I arrived in Oman, my brothers excitedly came to get me. A picnic was spontaneously organized on the covered veranda. They sat happily together and rejoiced in the beautiful weather.

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© Mirella Sidro

In surreal Heights

It is 27 degrees in Salalah. We drive up into the mountains with a stopover in Mughsayl Beach. The “Caribbean of the Orient” is one of the most beautiful natural beaches in the country. Today it is stormy there. The waves crash against the rocks with such force that the crystal clear water spills over the beach for meters. The Omanis and the Arab tourists take position to get a portion of the water.

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© Mirella Sidro

Fog is coming in. Am I really in Oman or somewhere on the English or Scottish coast? The fog settles deeper and deeper. The hills and rock faces, in which there are also caves, are no longer visible. Will we be able to continue? “Sure! We are here partly because of the fog.” Abdullah is taken aback by my concern. While in our country fog means danger, here it is synonymous with vacation.

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© Mirella Sidro
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© Mirella Sidro

“We are now going to the Yemeni border.” I beg your pardon?!? Isn’t that dangerous? Abdullah laughs. No, it isn’t. We keep going up. The more we climb, the foggier and cooler it gets, and the vegetation becomes richer. Flowers of many colors stand out from the lush greenery. The trees appear like shadows protruding from the fog. Abdullah leaves the road and turns onto a gravel path. He stops at a hill. I can’t see much because the fog is very thick.

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© Mirella Sidro

When I open the door, I hear a loud noise. I run up to the wall. The noise gets louder, but I don’t see anything! “We are above Rachyut,” Abdullah explains to me. It’s a few hundred meters steep down here and at the bottom are beautiful beaches that are now invisible. You can smell the salt water all the way up.

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© Mirella Sidro

What a surreal spectacle! As we walk along the top of the wall, we get wet from the fine beads of water that the mist gives off. We are completely soaked when we get into the car. For me it feels like the aftermath of a summer rain.

Taking care through the fog

It goes on. We drive back to the main road and continue to climb. “We have to drive more carefully now. There are many camels here.” Barely uttered, they appear like fantasy creatures out of the mist. On and off the road. The animals are so valuable to the land that they are allowed to roam freely.

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© Mirella Sidro

An Omani will be careful not to hit one. That would cost him dearly. Another reason: A totally destroyed car is lying on the side of the road. The upper part is completely dented. I wonder how he managed that. At least it’s not on the roof. “That’s what happens when you hit a camel. It can be fatal for the occupants …” I believe that immediately. The closer we get to the Yemeni border, the foggier it gets and the more camels we encounter. Sometimes whole herds are on the road. We have no choice but to wait patiently until the royal creatures give us the way. Soon we reach the border. In the meantime it has cooled down to 19 Grand. The last stretch leads over a gravel road, which is covered with mud due to the weather. Only a slow progress is possible.

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© Mirella Sidro

We make it to the border. Unfortunately, we are not allowed to take pictures. We are now about 150 kilometers away from Salalah and drive back. As we leave the mountains, we surprisingly also leave the fog behind us and a blue sky greets us. The area already looks different and you can see much more! These infinite canyons that now the fog has released!

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© Mirella Sidro

"A nice place to take a rest!"

We arrive at the hotel completely exhausted. We dine at the Mediterranean restaurant Al Minia. The sky is so clear that the stars smile at me. Although I am very tired, but a round in the pool and stargazing must be in it! The next day we prepare for the return trip. Abdullah drives me back to the mountains so I can see them in the sunshine. It is as if I am in Europe! This lush green! Everywhere there is a tree, you meet families camping. The time of the monsoon is fully enjoyed here. We also have a picnic of grilled chicken with rice and yogurt before we drive the thousand kilometers back. With stops in between, of course.

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© Mirella Sidro
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© Mirella Sidro

We stop at Sumhuram Archeological Park. One of the most important ports of the country was located here in ancient times. We walk through the extensive area and admire the ruins. The view is gigantic. The historical city is surrounded by watercourses and green areas, which camel herds cross. The UNESCO heritage site dates from the fourth century BC to the fourth century AD and is one of the oldest places in the country.

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© Mirella Sidro
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© Mirella Sidro

As we drive on we discover a large waterfall from the highway. We take the next exit. When we get pretty close, we park the car at the roadside like quite a few tourists before us and make a pilgrimage on foot to the natural spectacle. The waterfall is very strong. As the sun falls on it, it throws rainbows. A nice place to have a rest!

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© Mirella Sidro
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© Mirella Sidro

On the way home we take a small detour to Jabal Al Akhdar, the Green Mountain. At 2000 meters above sea level, the temperature here is also pleasant. And it is pomegranate season. One of the best varieties in the world grows here. But for these you have to dig pretty deep into your pocket. One piece costs up to 2 euros! A large supply for the family joins the banana boxes and coconuts in the trunk. It is late afternoon when we arrive home. It’s over forty degrees again. Never mind. Coconuts and pomegranates will cool us down.

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© Mirella Sidro